Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Speaking Of Wade Redden

Speaking of Wade Redden... what's he up to?
Now, Redden is in the middle of the lockout because by not assigning him to Connecticut before the lockout began, the Rangers do not have to pay him for the duration of the work stoppage. His situation is unusual, and just another example of ownership using loopholes to their advantage.
You almost have to feel sorry for the guy. Having a clause named after you in a CBA offer is bad enough, but your owner taking advantage of a loophole to get out of paying you? Man, that's cold.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chirping The CBA: Confusing Punishments

I'm starting to think that the NHL actively dislikes its own owners, and has frankly stopped pretending otherwise.

One of the clauses in the text of the NHL's latest offer (which has been left behind by the PA's stampede to make three insta-rejected counter-offers) was this golden idea:

All years of existing SPCs with terms in excess of five (5) years will be accounted for and charged against a team's Cap (at full AAV) regardless of whether or where the Player is playing. In the event any such contract is traded during its term, the related Cap charge will travel with the Player, but only for the year(s) in which the Player remains active and is being paid under his NHL SPC. If, at some subsequent point in time the Player retires or ceases to play and/or receive pay under his NHL SPC, the Cap charge will automatically revert (at full AAV) to the Club that initially entered into the contract for the balance of its term.

If the AHL salary provision wasn't enough, the League wants to burden teams which sign obscenely-lengthed contracts with the cap hit should the player retire.

Now I've been on the record as saying that if owners want to do stupid things they should have to live with the outcome -- good or bad. Having a team trade away a long contract and then later getting whacked with a cap hit when that player retires strikes me as being excessive.

Especially if you consider that many of these contract will probably be coming home to roost after the current ownership has been replaced. Definitely after the management has been replaced.

So what is the point of this cluase? Who, really, are we punishing with this?

While amusing from a karma point of view, I don't think this really does anything to build the league in the long term.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Leafership Priorities

Seen on my RSS reader, in an article listing today's Leafs-related link dump:

My reaction is: no, the Leafs are in dire need of players worth leading. Solve that problem first, then worry about "leadership".

And yeah, just kicking the Leafs in a quick one-line post is kinda low, but that's all I have time for today.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chirping The CBA: Owners Lob A Fastball

So it sounds like we're down to serious activity with the CBA negotiations.  Whether or not this is a serious offer or a serious PR stunt remains to be seen.

So let's peruse the low highlights of the offer:

50/50 split of Hockey Related Revenues

This marks a serious movement on the league after we started at a ridiculous 42-58 split.  So this is movement to what is commonly thought of as a "fair" split.  But in the longer run it doesn't mean much.  It certainly won't solve the problem of Phoenix, let alone those other southern American franchises which are not profitable -- something which was the express goal of the NHL in these negotiations.

Free agency would start at 28 or eight years of service

...which is an increase on both counts in the current deal.  Locking up players rights longer means that the owners have assets longer that they can leverage either in the arena or against each other for trade.

Entry level contacts last four years

...same reason, excepts this keeps players cheap for an additional year.  I'm not sure I like this.  The players are the lifeblood on the league, and many of them don't last long enough to see the large payouts.  Keeping them cheap longer seems a lousy way to short-change money.  If anything, the owners are offering the existing players a way to hedge their future earnings by restricting the earnings of the future union members -- if young players are cheaper longer, then they won't be providing pressure on caps -- meaning the existing players can get paid more in the short run.  But my feeling is that those young guys who are not going to make it should get paid more.  Seems... fairer some how.

Put those three things together and you have the total pool being cut, but younger players are going to cost less over the long run.  This will only inflate free agent salaries as if you make the bulk of your players cheap, you have to make up the difference somewhere else.

Maximum contract length of five years

This is such a good idea it stuns me.  I'm shocked to see such a common sense proposal -- from either side, frankly.  Now I'm sure that once the CBA is signed, the clever wonks will be all over it looking for other ways to pay players ridiculous amounts of money.  But this proposal would limit the amount of damage that owners and managers could do to their franchises, damage that all to often outlives said owners and managers.

Revenue sharing pool of $200 million

I'm not sure this is enough to make those other franchises viable.  It is a start, though.  No word on how this pool would be generated.  If it is an off-the-top skim from all franchises, including the ones in trouble, well then it is laughably insufficient.

Arbitration would still exist

Only notable because the NHL's previous offers explicitly killed arbitrarion.

NHL Players in AHL would have their contracts count against the signing NHL club's cap

...aka the Wade Redden clause.  I don't like this one, I think it penalizes a NHL club more than it should for signing a bad contract.  By all means make them pay out the contract value, but I'm not against burying that contract in the AHL as long as the hockey player gets paid.  Yes, such a clause would act as a disincentive to making bad offers.  But it would also reduce the supply of bad contracts that every year are sent up and down through waivers, which reduces the chance that someone might be picked up off of waivers.  Sure, Redden is a bad deal at $6 million.  But $3 million?  Maybe someone* would take a chance on him.

Must... not... smirk.
My Conclusion

I think this straddles the middle ground between serious offer and PR-pandering.  50-50 is widely seen as a "fair" split, echoing the levels seen in other professional sports.  Since much has been made of the revenue splits in the mainstream media, this would make Joe Q. Public think yeah, we're there, get the deal done.  The revenue sharing is an improvement -- "yeah, we're there, get the deal done." However the devil is going to be in the details.  I don't think the PA will want to give on the free agency or the entry level contracts.  The "Wade Redden" clause is a blatant throw-away clause, something the owners are willing to "walk away" from in order to gain another concession -- I doubt it will make it into the final agreement.

In total, I think that this could be the basis for a serious counter offer from the PA, and if the PA ignores or craps all over it, the league can use it as a platform to blast the media with the message "well we tried, but the union is the reason why you don't have any hockey".

Either way, the union has to respond.  I'd look for a counter offer of some form from the union, probably before the end of the week.  The media spin, of course, starts now.


*= OK yeah not me either, but hypothetically speaking.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Random Kickage

So the league has cancelled the first two weeks of hockey, which includes 6 Ottawa Senators games, and I presume a similar number of Maple Leafs games.  And this got me thinking.

You know that all things being equal, the Maple Leafs have enjoyed some barn-burner starts to the last couple of seasons.  It is clear that the Leafs are traditionally much better at the beginning of the year than at the end of it.  And the lockout could, in fact, work in their favor.  See, all the Leafs need to do is arrange for the second half of the season to be cancelled -- rather than the first half -- and they'll make the playoffs.

Simple, yes?  Don Cherry must be licking his chops.

In other, equally relevant news, the Leafs are still tied for first place in the East.

Chirping The CBA: The Amnesty Clause

One of the more interesting parts of the CBA process is that it gives us a chance to discuss some more intriguing ideas as far as regulations go. These new regulations can change the way the teams do business in interesting ways, adding wrinkles to the way teams go about building their rosters.

The "Amnesty Clause" is not one of those interesting ideas.
After the NBA lockout of 2011, a majestic clause was put into place. The clause allows each team to exterminate the burden of one albatross contract, thereby freeing the team from the immense weight of an ill-advised decision. An amnesty clause is essentially Pepto Bismol for regret.
From management's standpoint, this is the ultimate mulligan -- you can make a mistake and then avoid having to pay for it.

And this is why there shouldn't be one.

Mistakes -- and especially mistakes made by management and owners -- should hurt. Frankly, that's the only way these people learn. If you are going to do something stupid, you should deal with the consequences.

If you are going to sign Wade Redden to a six-year, thirty-six million dollar contract, then by god you should have to pay the man his money.

Look at it the other way. If Sidney Crosby and his agent get roaring drunk and sign a twelve-year, fifteen million dollar contract with the Florida Panthers, nobody is going to let them have a mulligan, are they?

Now there is an argument for a partial mulligan. If a new owner comes in, maybe he should get one or two. Maybe if a new GM is installed the argument could be made for granting one. As long as the player in question still gets paid some how. The only problem with this is that we already have a mechanism for doing this -- the buy-out. Teams can buy their way out of contracts that they don't like. It costs them both in money and cap space, but they can get out of it.

Put it all together and I think this is a dumb idea, and that it isn't really necessary.